Now in its third year, the Enrollment and Capacity Management Advisory Committee is considering a specific idea for reducing over-capacity conditions by fall 2020 at three elementary schools: Basswood, Rice Lake and Garden City.
Last spring, the committee recommended that staff study options for reducing enrollment pressures at the above schools. In September, staff reported to the school board that a short-term solution to some of the most urgent capacity needs would require funding for construction of additions at some schools. Staff also noted that further discussion with the advisory committee would be necessary before a short-term solution could be recommended for implementation in fall 2020 (two years from now). At the same meeting, the school board approved up to $15 million of preliminary bonding authority, pending final approval in December 2018, which allows construction to remain on the table as a potential option for addressing over-capacity concerns at some schools.
Earlier this week, staff reported back to the advisory committee that one idea had surfaced as the most viable option for reducing capacity pressures at the identified elementary schools. Specifically, committee members learned about a potential option that would add space to two schools (Oak View, which could absorb students from other attendance areas, and Garden City, which has a growing number of students from within its own attendance area), move students from two schools (Basswood and Rice Lake) and adjust elementary attendance areas, as needed. This potential option reflects two of the available actions that were identified by an enrollment and capacity task force in 2016: construct an addition/expand a school, and adjust attendance area(s).
This idea, and possibly others, will be vetted by the advisory committee over the coming months prior to advancing a final recommendation to administration in spring 2019. It’s important to note that the idea committee members learned about this week is still in its infancy. Bringing this idea to public light so early in the process is challenging because it might generate questions that cannot be answered until the committee has had more time to examine it. The committee seeks, however, to be transparent about its work in order to build community trust, so information will continue to be shared as the work evolves. If the committee’s work proceeds without delay, a short-term solution to address elementary capacity issues could be approved by the school board for implementation two years from now (fall 2020).
While focusing on the most urgent capacity concerns, the Enrollment and Capacity Management Advisory Committee will continue to study other longer-term over-capacity conditions at secondary schools, along with potential new housing development in northwest Maple Grove that could create significant capacity pressure in the Fernbrook Elementary attendance area.